September 13, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, along with the Governors of Delaware and Pennsylvania, comprising a majority of the Delaware River Basin Commission, today announced that they voted in favor of a resolution put forward by the commission to issue draft regulations to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in the Delaware River Basin.
The DRBC vote was three to one with one abstention in passing the resolution for promulgating regulations that would prohibit any water project in the Delaware River Basin proposed for developing oil and gas resources by high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
“Protecting and preserving our water resources is paramount to ensuring the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers and of all residents living within the Delaware River Basin,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this resolution, the DRBC builds on New York’s leadership to protect the environment and public health from hydraulic fracturing, while protecting this vital water source that millions of people depend on every day. I am proud to stand with my colleagues from Delaware and Pennsylvania in approving this critical resolution and we will continue to work on developing the necessary regulations to codify this commonsense resolution.”
Delaware Governor John Carney said that the DRBC resolution is consistent with the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, a bill introduced by Carney and passed by Congress in 2016, by helping to ensure that the water resources of the basin will be protected for present and future generations. “Fracking could diminish water resources in the Delaware River Basin, both through consumption and degraded water quality,” said Gov. Carney. “We are pleased to join both New York and Pennsylvania in voting in favor of this resolution, which will protect public health, and a precious water supply. This action will guarantee that fracking for oil and gas will not threaten water resources in the Basin.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was pleased to see the DRBC take a step forward after years of study. “Today, we are acting to protect a watershed that supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. I believe this resolution preserves water quality and water supply for the residents of the watershed, and will protect this precious resource for generations to come,” said Governor Wolf. “I have supported this resolution since I was a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, and I am proud that we have worked collaboratively to move this process forward after almost a decade of work at the DRBC.”
The Delaware River Basin, which drains from portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people. Governors of the four basin states and a federal representative serve as Delaware River Basin Commissioners, tasked with overseeing a unified approach to managing the river system without regard to political boundaries. The commission has oversight in the basin for water quality protection, water supply allocation, regulatory review (permitting), water conservation initiatives, watershed planning, drought management, flood loss reduction, and recreation.
The DRBC resolution comes after Congressional passage last December of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. As jointly authored by then-Congressman Carney and Delaware US Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act requires federal, state and local partners to work together and preserve the basin. Congress passed the Act as part of a larger national legislative package known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.
Development of oil and gas using hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River basin has been an issue since 2010, when the DRBC’s five commissioners voted unanimously to “postpone consideration of well pad dockets until regulations are adopted.” This action effectively placed a de facto, temporary moratorium on drilling for natural gas in several Pennsylvania counties and parts of southern New York. Since 2011, the DRBC and the signatory parties have undertaken extensive discussion and research efforts related to unconventional shale gas drilling which resulted in the resolution passed today.
In addition, to ensure protection of water resources in the Basin and beyond, Pennsylvania and New York have both developed comprehensive programs to effectively manage wastes and waste products produced as a result of high-volume hydraulic hydro-fracturing operations. These protections are an aspect of state programs to manage solid and hazardous wastes, as well as to treat wastes in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act and analogous state clean water programs.